The NHHS Music Department visits the LA Phil

February 26, 2019

On Friday, February 22nd, the NHHS Music Department was invited to watch the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall for the Symphonies for Schools program. This special program was hosted by Michael Giacchino, a film composer famous for his music in Zootopia, Ratatouille, Cars 2, and several Star Trek movies.


The orchestra, conducted by its assistant conductor Paolo Bortolameolli, opened the concert with a suite from the original 1938 King Kong composed by Max Steiner. Following features included character themes from Incredibles 2, the main theme from Up, the trailer music for Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the nostalgic music from the ending scene of Babe.

Michael Giacchino, renowned for his composing and conducting skills, held a very different role in this presentation. In between the performances of the Philharmonic, he explained the ideas behind each score and how they affected the individuality of the movie. For example, he explained the significance of King Kong's film score and how it shaped orchestral music in movies; before its release, all movies used the same generic soundtrack and musical effects. However, King Kong's score was composed solely for the use of that movie and was used to add suspense and drama to the film.


Giacchino went on to explain his use of different musical styles and techniques for certain genres, such as the use of pizzicato by the violins in Spiderman: Homecoming to give it a sneaky, spidery feel. Furthermore, for the movie Up, he wrote a childlike and airy piece that would compliment the scene when Carl’s house is able to ascend into the sky with thousands of colorful balloons.


In a nod to the recent release of Incredibles 2, the orchestra played the different themes for each character while Giacchino explained that he had written individual themes to signal their arrival or victory, similar to what Shakespearean plays had incorporated centuries before in order to highlight the character’s presence on stage, or in this case, on screen.


The penultimate act featured four young composers under the Philharmonic’s Composer Fellowship Program: Katherine Pieschala, Ezra Shcolnik, Sacha Feldman, and Charles Meenaghan. During the fellowship, each composer was assigned to compose for a dramatic scene from Star Trek: Beyond. However there was a catch, each was assigned a mood to convey throughout the scene. From humor to atonal dissonance, everyone of them did a wonderful job capturing and accentuating different aspects of the scene with their music when the finished product was displayed for us at Disney Hall.


Overall, the field trip was an incredibly fun and inspiring experience. It was lovely to hear the stories behind the music that was a big part of my childhood. Thank you to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Walt Disney Concert Hall for inviting and providing us with this amazing opportunity to watch such an experienced and well-trained orchestra!


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